When Kevin Taylor arrived at Chestnut Hill College in the fall of 2012, he knew exactly what to expect. According to him, he has Junior Team Tennis (JTT) to thank for that.
“I don’t think I could have asked for something better than team tennis to get me ready for collegiate tennis,” Taylor said. “When I got to college they knew I played singles, but they wanted to know if I had experience with doubles. I played everything with JTT, so I was well prepared.”
Taylor started playing tennis with his older brother, Christian. His mom gave them both racquets so they went to the courts down the street from their Burlington, N.J. home and would hit around. Soon after, they both got plugged into their local club and before they knew it, they were hooked.
Taylor got involved with JTT and eventually advanced to National Championships.
“It’s a big deal making it to Nationals,” Taylor said. “It’s a big stage and there’s some pressure. Your teammates are relying on you and you don’t want to disappoint them or yourself. You’re also playing the best of the best. When you get to college, you’re playing people from everywhere. I’m actually one of few Americans on my team. So playing at Nationals and playing against the best of the best from all over really prepared me for what I would face in college.”
Taylor says it was also a good way for him to be sure that continuing to play tennis and advancing his career was what he wanted to do. Playing at National Championships were the best taste of what to expect.
Still, there are some aspects of collegiate tennis that were completely new to him.
“It’s just a grind every single day,” Taylor said. “You have to schedule your classes a certain way to make weight lifting and conditioning, you’re sore all the time, you have to be on top of your grades – every move you make is centered around making it on the tennis court.
“The tennis isn’t the toughest part. That’s what we’re here for. We push ourselves hard every day so that when we get to a match, we don’t experience anything more than we would have in practice. There are some days you wake up and just don’t feel like doing it, but you have to will yourself to keep going – and it’s always worth it.”
Taylor graduates this May from Chestnut Hill College with a major in political science and double minor in business and legal studies. He plans to take a month or so off from tennis, but he’s sure he’ll be back.